*A lingering injury forced Venus Williams to withdraw from a Grand Slam singles match for the first time in her career.
The tennis star lasted just seven points in her third-round match Friday at the Australian Open.
After losing the first game to Andrea Petkovic of Germany and trailing in the second, Williams stretched to her right to return a serve, hit the ball and then cried out in pain, clutching toward her stomach on her right side. It was soon clear that she couldn’t continue.
“Obviously I just couldn’t play,” Williams said. “I couldn’t move, it was too painful.”
Her right thigh was already heavily bandaged from an injury she sustained in the first set of her second-round match Wednesday, when she beat Sandra Zahlavova in three sets. Afterward, Williams said the injury was in her “psoas” muscle, which flexes the hip and spinal column.
“The last 48 hours, I just did as much pain management as I could,” she said. “A lot of times when you play, you get that adrenaline and that blocks pain. I just didn’t get enough of that today. I was hoping for some magic that I could recover.”
The 30-year-old Williams waved to the Rod Laver Arena crowd and appeared to be on the verge of tears as she walked off the court. Her younger sister, defending champion Serena, didn’t even make it to Melbourne Park because of a foot injury.
“It’s super disappointing because this is just not how I envisioned my Australian Open being,” Venus Williams said. “I’m just going to focus obviously on getting healthy and coming back, because I love tennis and I’ve got a lot of great tennis in me.”